Community connectors and Bates Place staff seek to support neighbors through building trust, developing gifts, and participating in change. Our staff hopes to fulfill the vision and mission by prioritizing the following activities: discovering available assets and resources, connecting neighbors in areas of shared concern, collaborating with others around particular initiatives, and communicating opportunities for significant involvement.
Wayne has a background in pastoral ministry, business management, and nonprofit consulting. He is an experienced coach and trainer of ABCD and co-author of Building Leaders to Build Community: A Community Connector Workbook. He has had the privilege of developing several leaders and organizations for appreciative, highly relational, place-based strategies of community engagement. Wayne is enthused about the opportunity to help Bates Place Neighbors become a catalyst for neighbor-centered social change.
He and his wife Vicki have lived in a southeast side GR neighborhood for over 33 years, and they remain motivated by the opportunities and challenges of good neighboring.
Jerry is a self-employed contractor who was raised on the southeast side of Grand Rapids and has lived in or near the Bates Place area for most of his life. He is a people-person who is naturally curious about the experiences and perspectives of others. Jerry’s skills as a sketch artist, storyteller, family caregiver, and youth mentor, and his upbeat demeanor, allow him to naturally strike up conversations with others and develop trust as he gets to know them. His love for people is evident, and his dream for the neighborhood is for the full involvement of residents who care for each other and work together to make things better.
Tecca brings a heart to serve others and extensive experience as a social justice advocate to her role. Over the last 15 years, she has been working with others in several different contexts to meet the
following challenges: ensuring access to good-paying jobs, stopping predatory lending, protecting voters’ rights, providing access to affordable childcare, developing fair immigration policies, and
supporting anti-racism activities. Tecca now does connecting work in both the Baxter and Bates Place neighborhoods. She sees grassroots relational work as a great opportunity to empower citizens, and as a chance for residents to band together and get involved in the change(s) they want to see. She, too, has lived on the southeast side of Grand Rapids for several years.
With an educational background in family and childhood development and significant experience in working with at-risk citizens in a nonprofit setting, Sissy brings a compassionate heart and serving mindset to the work of neighborhood connecting and organizing. She combines natural relational skills with strong administrative gifts and looks for chances to meet people, make genuine connections, and collaborate with them on personal and community improvement possibilities. Sissy envisions a community in which every-day, ordinary life becomes an opportunity for residents to connect in helpful ways, where more neighbors actually become friends. She and her husband Mike have lived in the
Baxter neighborhood, adjacent to the Bates Place area, for three years.
Mark has been a Resource Specialist with Bates Place for several years. He is also self-employed, helping businesses and families in the area of financial planning. Mark brings his personal experiences, financial skills, and awareness of community resources into his staff role at BPN. He is able to help friends and neighbors navigate difficult life situations through mutual planning, supportive coaching, and meaningful connections with available community resources. This reflects one of Mark’s top priorities: building caring and positive relationships with our southeast side neighbors.
He and his wife Kathy, are longtime members of First Church. They have three adult children, and recently became first-time grandparents.